No:18!

Even the most optimistic Roger Federer fan would not have anticipated what happened in January 2018, at the Australian Open.

When Federer won Wimbledon in 2012, most fans like me would have come to terms with the fact that the heydays were over and we would have to resign ourselves to sporadic results or even worse, a retirement. With Novak Djokovic, Any Murray, and Stanislas Wawrinka in the mix, on top of Rafael Nadal, the future looked grim.

https://gattokaran.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/why-i-think-roger-federer-should-retire-right-now/

  • The shot-making and angles from both Federer and Nadal were amazing …
  • Federer’s backhand, the gorgeous single-handed one, was hit through with tremendous pace and you could see Nadal scramble a lot to retrieve them. The “loopy high-bouncing heavy-spin forehand to Federer’s backhand” had been Nadal’s go-to move. Because of the court and Federer’s strategy, the go-to move was not a huge success in this match …
  • The few times Federer ventured to the net, he had a high success rate …
  • Federer’s comment during the post-match press conference: “If there was a draw possible, I would be happy to share the trophy with Rafa” was a nice gesture …
  • Rafael Nadal’s fighter instincts are legendary. To come back from 1-3 down in the 5th set, against Nadal … Anyone who watched the emotional Federer loss (to Nadal) in 2009 Australian Open would have thought: “I have seen this before …” when Nadal broke early in the 5th set 🙂
  • Federer wins a Grand Slam after a gap of 17 slams. Boris Becker had a gap of 19 slams between his Australian Open win in 1991 and his Australian Open win in 1996 …
  • Winners > Unforced Errors & Net win percentage of 73%. Both great numbers against Nadal …
  • One could note the crowd having a blast … When Federer broke back at 2-3 in the 5th set, the crowd went wild
  • To me, Federer is an artist. Hitting machine-like ground-strokes over 5 sets (like Novak Djokovic) is not his strength
  • Now Federer has won at least 5 times at 3 Grand Slams (Wimbledon, US Open, and Australian Open)
  • Side Note: What’s up with Novak Djokovic??? He has truly hit a mental block after winning the 2016 French Open …
  • Grand Slam Finals Statistics

 

Roger Federer: 18-10 (Win-Loss). 64%. The 10 losses (AUSTRALIAN-1, FRENCH-4, WIMBLEDON-3, US-2)

Rafael Nadal: 14-7 (Win-Loss). 67%. The 7 losses (AUSTRALIAN-3, FRENCH-0, WIMBLEDON-3, US-1)

Novak Djokovic: 12-9 (Win-Loss). 57%. The 9 losses (AUSTRALIAN-0, FRENCH-3, WIMBLEDON-1, US-5)

  • Nadal and Djokovic are finding out 1st hand how difficult it is to achieve the various Grand Slam streaks Federer owns. E.g. Consecutive Grand Slam Finals, Consecutive Grand Slam Semi-Finals Etc.

 

Adios!

ATP 2004-15 – The 3 phases of domination …

Though we have 3 great players in the current generation (Andy Murray is very consistent and is always a contender at the major tournaments, but I do not think he is solidly in the Federer/Nadal/Djokovic conversation), there has been a distinct set of domination phases during the 2004-2015 time period, as highlighted below.

 

Federer Phase (2004-2007, 4 years)

Grand Slams == 11 (68.75%)

ATP 1000 Titles == 13

ATP World Tour Final Titles == 3

Ranking == No:1 for 3 full years (2005-07) and majority of 2004

 

Rafael Nadal Phase (2008-2010, 3 years)

Grand Slams == 6 (50%)

ATP 1000 Titles = 9

ATP World Tour Final Titles == 0

Ranking == No:1 for 1.5 years (Out of 3 years)

 

Novak Djokovic Phase (2011-2015, 5 years)

Grand Slams == 9 (45%)

ATP 1000 Titles = 21

ATP World Tour Final Titles == 4

Ranking == No:1 for 3.5 years (Out of 5 years)

 

Adios!

 

 

 

 

Cricket: 2015 IND tour of AUS …

Rohit Sharma: Against the World Champions, in their backyard, he scores 2 centuries, one 99, average of 110, in 5 matches! Ever since he has been made an opener, he has been awesome in ODIs. It is then an utter pity that he looks a total different player in Test Matches, even on Indian pitches.

NextGen Indian Cricket Team: Fielding is generally through the roof … Aggression, especially when provoked, is awesome … (Gone are the days of head-down, take-it-all-lying-down and meekness. Even AUS players, not the most cordial on the field, are wary now … :-)) Team spirit and backing each other have improved a lot … (E.g. You can see pure delight on Kohli’s face when Manish Pandey or Rohit Sharma or someone else does something good. Genuine Happiness). I love the NextGen Indian Cricket Team.

3 (IND) versus 11 (AUS): You take out Rohit Sharma, Shikar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, then the Indian performance is nothing to write home about … Bowling has a lot of scope to improve.

What Dada (Saurav Ganguly) started, is paying dividends: I have been a huge fan of Dada, especially once he became the Captain. He instilled some backbone into the Indian Team. The Team started approaching foreign tours and sledging with some level of confidence. Who can forget the 2002 Natwest Trophy T-shirt swinging scene 🙂 He changed IND team from a team of meek Lambs to a team of Tigers, at least in demeanour.

The Top Dog (Virat Kohli): All said and done, the new Top Dog is clearly, Virat Kohli. What a historic pace in ODIs. 7000+ runs, 25 centuries. He is well ahead of the pace set by Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Vivian Richards, AB De Villiers Etc. Amazing record while chasing. Amazing record of team victory when he scores a century. And as we all have seen, he is no dummy in Test Matches either …

 

All said and done, though AUS won the series 4-1, it was no humiliation. It could easily have been 3-2 for AUS. How IND managed to lose the 4th ODI is still a deep mystery.

Adios!

 

Greatest Tennis season over the past 30 years?

Pardon the almost unreadable quality of my table (Did not want to splurge on a paid WordPress account for the Plugins 😉 …

(1) Obviously, more credence is given to performance in the Grand Slams, the 4 tournaments with the biggest coverage, impact, money and pressure

(2) Even though Djokovic has a “3-0” (with respect to Grand Slams Won-Finals) season in 2011, his 2011 season deserves to be in the mix for the simple reason that his record against Nadal (7-0) and Federer (6-1) in 2011 is insane considering the kind of years Nadal (2010) and Federer (2009) had just prior. Djokovic kicked some a** in 2011 🙂

ATP

 

Adios!

2015 US Open: Some random thoughts …

(1) Federer gave a very good fight to Djokovic, but one always had the feeling that Djokovic would ultimately prevail. Though few would call Djokovic’s game “pleasing on the eye” (Federer is an artist with the racket, by comparison), the dude is the complete package as far as a Tennis pro go. Good serve? CHECK. Good (Actually, GREAT) return? CHECK. Endurance? CHECK. Mental toughness? CHECK. Great ground strokes? CHECK. Good net skills? CHECK. Big game experience? CHECK. Peak physical condition? CHECK. It is a fact that Nadal is/was in Federer’s head. Well, guess who is in Nadal’s head? Djoker! I still remember Nadal returning after a stellar 2010 (3 Grand Slams!) and finding that he got smoked 7-0 by Djokovic in 2011. After claiming his 17th Grand Slam at 2012 Wimbledon, what luck Federer has had to have played 3 Grand Slam Finals subsequently, and all of those against the World No:1.
(2) If 2015 is any indication, it is just a matter of time before Djokovic overtakes Sampras/Nadal (14), I think … Though Nadal and Djokovic are both 29, right now, Nadal looks 39 … 😉 Hope Nadal has a better 2016.
(3) Though Edberg has definitely revitalized Federer’s game (Federer’s 2013 had been a disaster) and has made his game very compact, attacking and all-court, one has to say that Becker has done much better with Djokovic (albeit a 5-year-younger ward) … Until Becker came on board, Djokovic went through a stretch of 9 Grand Slams, where he won just 1 and lost in 5 Finals and 2 SFs and 1 QF. Since then, over 6 Grand Slams, Djokovic has won 4, lost a shocker to Wawrinka in 2015 French Open and lost in SF (to Nishikori) in 2014 US Open. Not bad, eh?
I wonder what 2016 will have in store for Tennis fans?
Adios!

2015 Cricket World Cup – Week1 …

(A) Is 300 the new 200? Almost every team is making 300+ … I wish the grounds were not made so small. Even mishits are going for six … Someone has decided for everyone that sixers and fours are what most fans want to see … Bowlers are just lambs being led to their slaughter

(B) The way Sangakarra started off, I was dreaming about a century … Alas, it was not to be

(C) Brendan McCullum made a rocking start to his World Cup campaign or what … He is an exciting player to watch. Also, as a bonus, an outstanding fielder

(D) It was a remarkably calm and mature performance by India, against Pakistan on 02/15/15 (Sun). If Dhoni is a Dalai Lama on the field, so is Misbah-ul-Haq

(E) Australia must be a huge favourite … What depth they have in their team. How can one hope to get them all out? If Warner does not kill you, Flinch will. If Flinch does not kill you, Smith will … And so on. Even if you manage to get them all out cheaply, Johnson and Starc will knock you down. It will be nothing but a miracle if they lose one match in this World Cup (I feel)

(F) Considering the hype around Virat Kohli, his century against Pakistan was something, albeit a bit slow by his standards

(G) What’s up with West Indies? Still “peaking” I suppose. I hope they do not “peak” after the World Cup 😉

(H) Things should start getting interesting towards the end of the round-robin phase …

Adios!

You are a true sports fan if …

(A) Once you start admiring a person or team for the way they play a particular sport, you go all in … I.e. Support them, as a fan, through thick and thin …

My Idols through the years:

Tennis: Boris Becker …. Patrick Rafter … Roger Federer … “Big 4” (Roger/Rafa/Novak/Andy)

NBA: Michael Jordan, LA Lakers, Kobe Bryant …

Cricket: Mohammed Azharuddin … Yuvraj Singh … Virat Kohli …

NFL: Peyton Manning … Aaron Rodgers …

As you can imagine, I have gone through many a heart-break as a fan 🙂

(B) You wake up at 1.30AM to watch the Pre-Show!

Example: I woke up at 1..30AM IST to watch Pre-Show of NZ-SL game in the 2015 Cricket World Cup

(C) A hard-earned win by your idol sends you over the moon and changes your crappy day into a remarkable one …

Examples:

(1) LA Lakers beating Sacramento Kings to draw level at 2-2 in the 2002 Western Conference Finals on a Robert Horry 3-pointer

(2) India beating Pakistan in 1996 Cricket World Cup, at Bengaluru …

(3) Novak Djokovic beating Rafael Nadal in a dramatic 5-setter in 2012 Australian Open Final

(D) You can list out every major victory, scores and other titbits …

Example: You want to test me? 😉

Enjoy the 2015 Cricket World Cup folks … May the best team win! Go Dhoni! Go Kohli! Go India! Go Smith! Go Sanga! Go McCullum! Go De Villiers!

Adios!